Once the preeminent coffee maker, the pour over faded behind other brewing options only to see a recent resurgence in popularity.
As coffee aficionados look for a coffee-making method that gives them complete control over all brewing variables and produces great coffee, the pour over coffee maker has proven to be a favourite.
If you’re new to pour over coffee brewing or want to perfect your technique, you have come to the right place. In this pour over coffee guide we cover everything you need to know about how to make pour over coffee at home.
From the best pour over coffee temperature and the right pour over brew time to the right grind size and the best pour over coffee technique, we explain all the ins and outs of this coffee brewing method so you know exactly how to make the best pour over coffee at home.
What is pour over coffee brewing?
Pour over coffee brewing is a brew method that’s dictated by how the water is poured over the coffee grounds.
The method allows the water to be manually poured over the grounds, and how the water is poured has a tremendous impact on the outcome of the final brew.
In many ways, pour-over coffee makers can be thought of as the manual version of today’s automatic filter coffee machines.
The pour-over came first, however, and it’s long had a loyal following among certain coffee lovers who consider it one of the best ways to make coffee at home.
History of the coffee pour over method
The manual pour over coffee filter was invented in 1908 by Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz, a German woman.
Melitta Bentz was fed up with the dark and bitter flavor profile of the coffee percolators that were pervasive at the time, and she created the pour-over as an alternative and better coffee brewing method.
The main feature that Bentz invented was the pour over coffee dripper, which allowed for slow pour coffee brewing.
Bentz’s manual pour over cone was a success and usage increased, until it was eclipsed by the French press (patented in 1924).
The press was simpler and easier to use, and then automatic drip coffee makers entered restaurants and homes in the 1970s.
While some continued to use the pour over coffee cone, it largely remained on the sidelines of coffee brewing until recently.
The Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Chemex, Clever dripper and other pour-overs are primarily used today because of the control they afford and the flavor profile they create.
In skilled hands, the control and flavour profile of pour over coffee makers allow a high-quality coffee’s inherent characteristics to shine.
For this reason, the rise in popularity of making pour over coffee at home has largely mirrored the increased access to single-origin and microlot coffees that new advancements in specialty coffee have afforded.
What do you need for pour over coffee brewing?
Brewing pour over coffee requires some specialised equipment which we have outlined below.
Essential pour over coffee equipment
There are just two pieces of brewing gear you need to start making pour over coffee at home.
Pour over coffee maker
Many companies have developed pour-over coffee makers. Some of the most popular brands include the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Chemex and Clever dripper.
Pour over coffee filter
Paper coffee filters (either bleached or unbleached) that are designed for a specific pour-over coffee maker work best.
The better pour over brewers have carefully designed cones, with the circumference, slope and sides meticulously calculated.
Paper filters will adhere to these sides when wet and follow the contours of a models’ cone.
Rigid permanent metal filters won’t adhere to the sides and follow the contours of a model.
Optional pour over coffee tools
If you want to make perfect pour over coffee at home, there are two more coffee accessories that will help take your brew from good to great.
Gooseneck coffee kettle
A gooseneck kettle, also known as a coffee pour over kettle, is named because of its long, narrow spout that allows for precision pouring.
Pouring technique is everything when learning how to make good pour over coffee, and the precision that a gooseneck kettle affords is absolutely necessary.
A temperature-control model is helpful but not absolutely necessary. We talk more about pour over temperature below.
A pour over coffee scale is also recommended, as weighing out coffee is more accurate than measuring it by volume.
Because bean densities vary, a set volume of coffee doesn’t actually always contain the same amount of coffee once ground.
Measuring by weight will ensure accuracy and consistency.
A pour over scale will also assist time your brew and ensure the right pour over coffee ratio.
Find out more: See our reviews of the best coffee scales here.
How to make pour over coffee at home
The pour over coffee method can be learned quickly but takes a long time to perfect.
We have broken down the pour over coffee process into two main steps:
- How to prepare your manual coffee brewer
- How to brew pour over coffee.
Following on from this outline, we delve into some of these set up steps, including grind size and water temperature, in more detail.
Set up your brewer
To set up a pour over coffee maker for brewing follow these steps:
- Measure out your coffee beans and water.
- Heat the water to about 96°C.
- Grind the coffee beans on a medium-fine to medium-coarse setting.
- Place the filter in the pour over coffee dripper.
- Place the freshly ground coffee in the filter.
Brew your coffee
Now you are ready to brew using the following steps:
- Half of the water used should be poured within the first minute of brewing. Using your coffee kettle, begin to pour water in the center and slowly expand in concentric circles toward the edge.
- You should be completing the largest circle at the 60-second mark.
- The second half of the water should be poured in the same pattern over the next two minutes, with the final drops leaving the gooseneck kettle at 3 minutes. This equates to a rate of 50 millilitres per every 20 seconds for many pour-overs.
- Allow the water to drip through the grounds entirely. This should usually take 3.5 to 5 minutes for most standard-sized pour-over models.
- Remove the filter and grounds once the water is finished dripping. Pour into a mug, and enjoy!
Expert pour over coffee tips
Ensure you use the right paper filter shape and size for your specific type of pour over cone.
Some are flat bottomed, some are cone shaped. Some drippers are single serve, others are larger. The paper filter needs to fit right to achieve a good brew.
Some people prefer a back-and-forth pattern rather than a circular pattern for the second pour, but this can lead to minorly less even flow through the grounds.
The time frames provided are for most pour-over models that brew 1 to 4 cups of coffee. Larger models that brew many cups may require longer pour and drip times.
If the water takes too little or too much time to complete dripping, adjust your pour rate next time accordingly.
If brewing with freshly roasted coffee beans, remember to wet the grounds and let them bloom before brewing.
Dampen the grounds with a little of the brew water, let them bloom for 40 seconds, and then continue brewing as normal.
Iced pour over
To make iced pour over coffee, simply add cubed ice to your glass or carafe prior to brewing, and the brewed coffee will chill quickly as it drips over ice.
What is the best coffee for pour over coffee brewing?
The pour-over brewing method is an excellent brewing method, and any decent coffee roast will taste good when brewed this way.
However the method is particularly well-suited to lighter roasts that retain more of their terroir (qualities from the growing region).
This is because the pour over coffee technique is very good at bringing out the inherent qualities in roasted coffee beans.
What is the best grind for pour over coffee?
The best pour over coffee grind is a medium-fine to medium-coarse grind. The best way to ensure the right grind is by grinding whole beans at home.
Exactly where a model’s preferred grind falls within this range depends on the design of the cone and the filter used.
Below are the best grind settings for some of the most popular pour over models:
- Chemex requires a medium-coarse grind
- Clever requires a medium-coarse grind
- Kalita Wave requires a medium-coarse grind
- Hario V60 requires a medium-fine grind
- Other pour-over models should use a medium grind.
If your pouring technique is perfect but the brew time isn’t right, the grind is another setting that can be adjusted.
A finer grind will result in a longer brew time, and a coarser grind will speed up the brew time.
Ready to grind at home? Read our best coffee grinder reviews here.
What is the best temperature for pour over coffee?
The ideal water temperature for pour over coffee is between 91 and 96°C, as this range is hot enough to extract nuanced flavours from beings but won’t scald the grounds.
Boiling water that’s 100°C will scald grounds and destroy some of those nuanced flavours.
When brewing with a pour over coffee maker, use water that’s in the upper end of this range.
If you start with water that’s at 96°C, the water will still be in the proper range at the end of the brewing process.
Starting with cooler water could result in the water being too cold when brewing finishes, as pour over drippers aren’t insulated and have no lid over the filter and grounds to retain heat.
A temperature controlled kettle makes this process simple, but if you don’t have a temperature-controlled kettle, most kettles will cool to the proper range about 30 seconds after boiling.
What is the best pour over coffee ratio?
The coffee-to-water ratio is one variable that’s almost never changed across most brew styles, and it generally shouldn’t be altered when using a pour-over.
The standard ratio per the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is between 1:16 and 1:18, meaning 1 gram of coffee for every 16 to 18 ml of water.
Start with 14 grams (1/4 ounce) of coffee for every 250 mls (8 oz) of water.
If measuring coffee according to how many cups a pour-over makes, check whether the pour over dripper uses 4, 6 or 8-ounce cups.
Many models don’t go by a standard 8-ounce cup but use something slightly smaller. The coffee ratio per 125ml (4-ounce cup) requires approximately 7 grams (¼ ounce) of coffee.
If you want to know how to make pour over coffee stronger, simply increase the coffee to water ratio.
What are the best pour over coffee makers?
All decent pour over coffee makers are capable of brewing a good cup, and there’s no reason to go beyond your budget for a particular model.
Nonetheless, some of the more popular models excel in one or more ways as explained below.
Making pour over coffee is part demonstration of skill, and there’s a certain aesthetic showmanship that accompanies the brewing method.
For the most beautiful coffee pour over brewer, Chemex has to be the model used.
The glass, wood and leather strip create a clean, elegant and classic look that goes well with any decor.
The Melitta, Clever and stainless steel Kalita Wave pour overs are all durable models.
The stainless steel Kalita is the most durable, and it should withstand knocks sustained among camping equipment or a full car boot.
The plastic of the Melitta and Clever is more than durable enough for kitchen use.
The Kalita and Hario V60 are both designed to brew a single cup of coffee at a time, sitting atop whatever mug you’re drinking from.
These are more convenient to use for one cup than the smallest Chemex is, and they’re a step up from the Melitta and Clever.
For entertaining, no pour over coffee maker can compete with the Chemex’s largest model.
The 10 cup Classic Chemex brews 1.5 litres (50 ounces), making it suitable for entertaining anywhere from four to eight guests at a time.
The differences in brew quality among the better manual pour-over are minute, and even experienced coffee tasters might consider them moot.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of characteristics that make the Chemex and Kalita Wave stand apart.
Chemex Pour Over Brewer
The Chemex likely brews the best pour over coffee, perhaps in part because it looks so nice (research has shown that aesthetics impact taste).
More significantly, Chemex has special patented filters that are thicker than most other brands’ filters.
These thicker filters adhere to the contours of the cone better, minimizing how much water runs down the outside of the filter and improving extraction. They also absorb more of the coffee oils during brewing, resulting in a cleaner, brighter brew.
Among pour over models that sit atop a mug, the Kalita Wave has a slight edge over the Hario V60.
The Kalita has a flat-bottom design and multiple small holes, whereas the Hario has a cone shape that directs water to a single, larger hole.
These differences theoretically help the Kalita achieve minorly more consistent extraction. Both models tend to have higher-quality filters and a better overall design than their other one-cup counterparts.
Pour over coffee makers generally don’t cost too much, but the Melitta pour over coffee brewer is cheap even compared to the other affordable options and the filters are inexpensive too.
While the brew quality and aesthetic aren’t the same as some other models, Melitta is a brand name that makes decent budget-friendly equipment.
This is a much better option than many unknown companies sold online.
Perfect pour over coffee tips
Pour over drip coffee is delicious when it’s made well. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll have a great cup each time:
- Use high-quality, freshly roasted coffee for maximum flavour
- Maintain a consistent coffee-to-water ratio, while adjusting other variables as needed
- Monitor your pour with a stopwatch or timer
- Practice your pouring technique until it’s perfectly consistent.
Pour over is one of the more difficult coffee methods to brew perfectly, but there’s a reason why some swear by it.
Once you have the technique down, you’ll be making some of the best coffee you’ve ever had. Enjoy practicing how to use a pour over coffee maker – and the coffee once you have the pouring down.
More coffee brew guides
If you found our guide for making a pour over coffee helpful, here are a few more coffee articles you may like:
- Best gooseneck kettle guide
- How to make Vietnamese pour over coffee
- Guide to different coffee drinks
- Best portable coffee maker reviews
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